Ugh! I wish this was better, but it's everything my mind gave me for now. Sorry! I know a lot of you have been waiting for a (very, very) long time. But I promise I'll try to be better next time. Forgive me?
Chapter 51 : Land Of Dragons and Wolves
The mere idea of the celebrations had Daenerys on edge. She didn't believe appropriate to be celebrating when there was so much to rebuild. King's Landing was still chaotic, people were still suffering from hunger, and yet lords and ladies were hoping to dance and have banquets in their honor. They had done nothing compared to the sacrifices of the smallfolk. It bothered her terribly that Robb had allowed it. And he knew it.
She covered her breast after Rhyane was fed. The small princess was growing stronger each day. Gone were Dany's hopes that her daughter would possess the Targaryen's signature platinum hair. A reddish hue had started covering her head, much like Robb's, but now that her eyes had started to open to the world, the light purple color of her eyes was seeable. Rhyane would become a jewel, magnificent and priceless, but also fearsome – the little Fire Wolf, a flame in the darkest of nights.
"The light guiding me home," Daenerys whispered as she pressed a tender kiss to her daughter's cheek.
Meanwhile, Robb and Iagan were playing in the courtyard. Their son's proper education had started early, with small things much to their chagrin. The maester, as the council, had deemed necessary that the future King of Westeros would be educated as soon as possible. Of course, that didn't sit well with Robb particularly. He believed children should be left free as long as possible, so he took Iagan away from lessons as often as he could, which wasn't very frequently considering his new duties.
"It's time for her nap," Daenerys said as she handed the babe to Irri. As Dany's faithful handmaid moved to take Rhyane to her crib, Grey Wind followed. The direwolf had become the princess's guard – wherever Rhyane went, Grey Wind followed.
Daenerys walked through the Red Keep followed by guards. She had started to grow accustomed to them, though she still fought them whenever she wanted time alone with her children. Her trust wasn't to be given away so easily – she kept very few people close enough for them to learn her true intentions and desires.
"Mama!" Iagan shouted and ran to her as soon as he saw her. He was leaving behind the image of a baby to turn into a boy – in no time he would stop calling her mama and use the more formal mother.
"My little dragon," she replied as her hand fell upon Iagan's long light hair. His blue eyes looked up at her and it was as if he could see through her soul. His smile was adorable. "Were you playing with Papa?"
Iagan nodded eagerly as Robb approached them. The new King of Westeros picked his son up, making the boy giggle. "I'm sorry to interrupt. You should spend some time with your mother and sister." Iagan frowned in reply.
Daenerys didn't think anything of it, she knew the boy got bored of the babe because he couldn't really play with her. And she enjoyed whenever Iagan searched for comfort, cuddling with her.
"Don't mind me. Go play, my sweet boy," Dany cooed, reaching with her hand to caress the child's soft cheek. "Enjoy your time with Papa before he's too occupied."
Robb placed the boy back on his feet. Ser Barristan called for Iagan and the child quickly ran to the Kingsguard's commander. Those two had become close, and both Robb and Daenerys hoped their son could be taught by him when the time was right.
"Theon said Mother is to arrive in five days." Robb announced, standing next to his wife.
Daenerys knew she had kept her distance from him lately. It had taken time for her to understand why he was acting the way he was – she hadn't been affected by war the way he was. In a sense, she now realized why he kept sending her away during war – she wasn't sure she could have been a nurturing mother if she had to keep fighting day after day for years. For Robb, his family was solace. But fighting was his reason to function – he knew nothing better than to be a protector.
"Does that mean the tournament will start soon?" She didn't turn to look at him when uttering the question.
"Preparations are almost ready. Lords and ladies will finish arriving in a week," Robb replied.
This time she looked at him. Over the last few months, he had been training with vigor, trying to regain his strength since his injury – he had become even stronger and faster if possible. Ser Barristan pushed him to be better. Robb exerted himself. She had found small cuts and bruises on his skin. His body was a map filled with pain and war but also victory.
"I'm not happy with this, Robb." Daenerys saw him sigh with relief, and then smile. "Have you heard me?"
He chuckled. "Do you know how tiring is to be called Your Magnificence or Your Grace by everyone? I'll take your scolding anytime, because you're the closest to me. But do not think I'll follow orders, because there are countless times you didn't follow mine."
"Is this revenge? Is it because I went to war even when you didn't want me to? Because I'm not a dutiful wife?"
"It's because of who I am." Robb planted himself in front of her, firmly and honestly. "And because I finally know I cannot fight you, so let's try helping each other. Let's fight together against the rest."
Robb wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her to him. He wore thin cotton clothes – he had a hard time adapting to the heat, even if the approaching winter was making the city colder. His chest was hard and shapely, broad enough to serve as her shield.
"Are you sure of this?" She asked him.
"Quite. People need to see their King in action, and not just listen to tales."
Daenerys rose on tiptoes, her hands framed his face and she kissed Robb on the lips. His arms encircled her in a tight embrace. The kiss was kept chaste, but the hug lasted for a long moment. Her face was pressed against his shoulder, and it allowed her to smell his scent and feel his heartbeat.
"Win us another crown, Wolf."
Daenerys had chosen a simple silvery dress to welcome her husband's mother. She lately favored the Starks colors when in everyday tasks, and in events that involved her husband's family.
Iagan at her side fiddled with the sleeves of his outfit, and Rhyane was bundled up in her arms. Robb stood next to them with his crown on his head – he still wore the bronze circlet with the spikes in the shape of longswords, even if he had ordered for her a gold crown with the shape of her dragons intertwined.
Catelyn left the carriage and smiled as soon as her eyes fell upon the new king and her grandchildren. She greeted Robb and Daenerys fondly, but quickly moved to Iagan, who tried to be as formal as possible, but couldn't help to be adorable in front of his grandmother. Finally, Catelyn asked to meet her first granddaughter.
"My sweet child," Catelyn cooed as she drank in the image of Rhyane. "She's beautiful."
"And a survivor," Danerys added.
Much to Robb's and Daenerys' surprise, a black direwolf approached Caitlyn, followed behind by Rickon. It was difficult to recognize the boy since he had grown so much in the time away – Rickon's hair was longer and fell over his shoulders. Daenerys was happy to see her first ally in the Stark's home.
"Shaggydog!" Rickon called when the direwolf sniffed the babe in Catelyn's arms. But then the direwolf swiftly laid at her feet. Rickon frowned – it was known Shaggydog was the wildest from the litter, the animal barely responded to his owner, let alone other people.
"Rickon!" Dany called, before hugging her youngest good-brother. "You've decided to come visit us. I'm happy to see you."
"Me too," Rickon replied with a smile. "Bran is the Stark in Winterfell now, but he's happy to watch the North with the help of Viserion. He's become a great dragonrider."
"I hope one day I can visit and see it myself. Maybe join him, as well."
"Or he'll visit you."
"Shush, you." Catelyn warned her son. "I still fear for him. Do not give him ideas. Bran is too adventurous and–"
"And free," Robb interrupted. "He's one of the few dragonriders in Westeros. One of only three, Mother."
"To my great regret," Arya said as she tackled her mother. She fiercely hugged Catelyn. "Welcome, Mother."
Sansa followed with a more proper greeting before falling into her siblings' ways, hugging her mother.
"How would I know my children would master wild creatures?" Catelyn's smile was bright. Daenerys understood that for Catelyn family was everything, her most important task and purpose in life.
Robb smirked. "You raised five wild creatures on your own."
"I cannot stand being locked inside these walls," had Robb complained several times. It was of course a hard task for a man who had never been put under any restriction. Robb was used to his freedom. But now as king, freedom was not a company of duty and responsibilities – it was the one thing a king didn't have.
"Let's prepare a day out. With your siblings and mother. I believe some fresh air would do good to our children. Why don't you propose the idea to Ser Barristan? I'm sure he can offer protection."
Robb's inquisitive look made Dany laugh. "Why don't you tell him? The old man will more likely than not try to comply to your wishes. I might be king, but even that power has limits."
She smiled, but she couldn't say he was wrong. Ser Barristan Selmy had a soft spot for her and the children. Iagan always bothered the Kingsguard's Commander with one thing or another, never receiving a no for answer.
That was how they were able to make a short travel to the kingswood. It was noticeable how much more at ease Robb, Arya and Rickon felt once they were able to roam their surroundings on their horses. Iagan was just happy to be with his father, learning to love nature as much as a wolf was supposed to.
Daenerys kept close to Catelyn and Sansa, but if she didn't have Rhyane to take care of, she was sure she would've joined her husband in his stroll. She had learned to value the outdoors with the dothraki, and gotten used to traveling over the years. Staying in one place was also becoming boring for her, but she was looking for the more positive side of it – she had her hands full with her new role as queen and mother of two.
Robb sat at her side once it was time to eat. He took Rhyane in his arms and played with the babe until she gurgled – a sound similar to a laugh that made everyone smile. Not for the first time, Dany thought Robb would've been happy just being a simple soldier with no more worries than family and fighting. But that would've meant they wouldn't have been together, because she had always had the need to be queen, it was part of her blood.
Arya and Rickon ate, but also played with the fruit. Even if Iagan try to keep an impassive expression, he still followed his aunt and uncle and soon was dirty but smiling brightly.
Daenerys was so happy Viserys couldn't see her now. He would be cruel and mock her status as queen. He would be cruel with Iagan for not behaving like a proper prince. But what did he know about happiness? Now she could feel pity for him, for not knowing a loving family or having the support of friend. After all her suffering, she had been lucky to be blessed with her children and husband.
Daenerys and Arya were laughing at Rickon who was playing with Iagan, making faces and being silly to entertain his nephew. She didn't exactly notice when both Grey Wind and Shaggydog suddenly left her side. The direwolves' low grumble was still loud enough for the rest to hear. Arya and Rickon turned their gazes to the animals, as Robb and Daenerys had done already.
"Grey Wind, come here!" Robb ordered, but as he did, the direwolves dashed right into the forest without paying attention to the screams. Arya and Rickon also called their names. Only Iagan stood there in silence, he merely sat down next to his mother.
"Where are the puppies?" Iagan asked, turning his blue eyes at Dany.
She smiled. Only he could call those beasts puppies. "They'll come back soon. They are just playing." She could only hope they would return soon enough. They still had to be back before supper, welcoming people before the tournament – it was one thing to escape for an afternoon, but the king wouldn't be forgiven for leaving his guests waiting over two direwolves.
"We should go," Daenerys advised, knowing Robb would disagree.
"I'll go for them, and if I can't find them, then we go."
Robb decided to mount his horse and go look for Grey Wind and Shaggydog, but before Arya could also follow, the direwolves returned. Surprisingly, they weren't just two of them, but three.
"Where did that one come from?" Robb muttered.
Arya's eyes grew soft. "It's Nymeria."
The three direwolves slowly approached the people, as if they were more frightened of being hurt. Soon they discovered why. In each of their snouts, the direwolves carried a small pup whimpering as the babes they were.
"This cannot be." Robb dismounted his horse and followed Grey Wind as the animal reached Iagan, Daenerys and Rhyane. The direwolves placed the puppies at their feet. Three small wolves, surely a mix of direwolf and wolf – Nymeria's pups. "Why would she give it to us?"
"To protect us," Arya replied, trying to approach her old companion. Nymeria just growled at her in reply. "Don't you remember me?" Arya's voice trembled as her eyes filled with tears. "Forgive me for leaving you, Nymeria. I didn't want to."
The direwolf looked at her former master, but only for a moment before she once again retreated into the forest. She was nothing but a blur in the blink of an eye.
Daenerys looked down at the pups and saw Iagan petting them, big grin on his face. "Look, Mama. More puppies!" The tiny beasts were licking Iagan's cheeks and hands, as if he were one of the litter.
"You are the expert here, Robb," Daenerys called. "Should we keep them?"
Robb smirked, and to everyone's but Catelyn's delight, he replied. "We must. We've brought the North to the Crownlands."
"So, this is the land of dragons and wolves."